The Piano Chords

  • A chord is simply 3 or more (particular) notes that when played together make a ‘FULL’ sound
  • If this full sound is played rhythmically and various chords are used in a certain sequence, a nice background sound can be created for melodies or lyrics (vocals)
  • Let’s play a very basic chord – the chord of C
  • Use your right hand
    • This isn’t easy to start with but TRY TRY TRY to use these fingers
    • It won’t take long to get used to it
  • For all future fingering purposes number your fingers like this
  • Remember – play all three notes
    • Play it over and over until your fingers get used to the shape

Piano Chords

1950s Chord Progression

Right hand

  • We’re going to play a very familiar chord sequence using 4 simple chords
    • (Don’t worry about WHY a chord is the shape it is or why it is a ‘major’ or a ‘minor’ chord – just PLAY!.)
  • The 4 chords are C, A minor (written Am), F and G
    • Remember – play the three notes of each chord together – at the same time
  • Play them over and over in a repeat pattern SLOWLY
  • C, Am, F, G, C, Am, F, G, etc . . . (you may recognize the sequence)
  • These chords are in what is known as ‘ROOT’ position, with the THUMB on the note that gives the chord its name – the ROOT note.
  • Don’t give up if playing these chords hurts your hands. That’s normal for a beginner and won’t last forever.
  • And make sure you USE your 1st, 3rd and 5th fingers.

Left and Right hand

  • Let’s make it more interesting by adding some notes in the left hand…
  • RHYTHM 1 – “Left note / Right chord”
  • The left-hand notes are the SAME note as the first note of the ‘matching’ right-hand chord but played an octave LOWER (8 notes to the left)
  • Use ANY left-hand finger (for now)
  • If you keep repeating this pattern you should recognize the sequence.
  • Lots of songs use this exact rhythm and chord sequence – it is actually known as the ‘1950s Chord Progression’
  • Play the sequence and see if you can SING-ALONG with the following songs – you may have to change the speed you play for each song

Songs with 1950s Chord Progression

  • Always look on the bright side of your life – Eric Idle – Monty Python


  • All I have to do is dream – Boudleaux Bryant (covered by Everly Brothers)

  • A Teenager in Love – Doc Pomus

  • Beyond the Sea – Jack Lawrence / Charles Trenet (cover – Frank Sinatra)

  • Blue Moon – Rodgers and Hart

  • Earth Angel – Curtis Williams (used in the film Back to the Future)

  • Eternal Flame – The bangles (“close your eyes – give me your hand…”)

  • Happiness is a warm gun – Beatles (play very slowly)

  • Heart and Soul – Hoagy Carmichael & Frank Loesser 1938 (used in the film‘Big’ with Tom Hanks)

  • I will always love you – Dolly Parton (covered Whitney Houston)

  • Lollipop Lollipop O lolli lollipop – Julius Dixson (covered by Chordettes)

  • Lonely This Christmas – Mud (covered by Elvis)

  • My Boy Lollipop – Robert Spencer

  • Oh Donna – Ritchie Valens

  • Red Red Wine – Neil Diamond (the original chord progression is slightly different but the song still fits with C Am F G)

  • Take It On The Run – REO Speedwagon (play each chord twice)

  • This Boy – Beatles